Disney Disaster

Two nights ago I was watching the movie The Incredibles, one of my all-time favorite Pixar creations.  My friend Alex and I were discussing how nice it was to finally have a movie where there’s a balance between the strong female and male leads  However, halfway through the movie, we started to realize that while on the surface the movie seems to support the idea of “girl power”, there were still undertones of sexist stereotypes present. 

Notice how the powers of Violet and Helen are limited and follow the typical gender roles of women.  Helen, also known as Elasitgirl, has the incredible ability to change the shape of her body in response to her surroundings, stretching it to impossible lengths.  What does this suggest for girls watching?

·         Must change your bodies

·         Need to be “flexible” in personality

·         Be flexible to preserve relationships

Of course, Helen’s husband lands the power of super strength, the ultimate picture of masculinity.  Meanwhile her son Dash has the gift of speed, and even Jack – Jack has the uncanny ability to morph into some sort of feral animal. Go figure. 

Now let’s take a look at Violet, whose has the ability to create force fields and to become invisible.  Here’s what that seems to say to me:

·         Remain on the sidelines while men fight

·         Stay out of sight (we don’t want the helpless girl to get hurt)

·         Protect others but cause no harm

Now I might be going a little overboard with this, but does this also tell girls that they have certain gender roles to fulfill?  Most of which are simply responses and not preemptive actions.  All in all, I felt very disillusioned watching an old childhood favorite.   And it’s not just in The Incredibles.  Even in a simple google search I found sites like this illustrating sexism in Disney characters.    

This experience pretty much describes the current dilemma I am facing. Ever since taking this class, one thing I have noticed is that I no longer watch Disney movies without analyzing the gender roles of each character in some way, particularly the princesses.  I have to admit that while I enjoy being more aware, this has been a frustrating experience because I essentially live off of these movies (I brought more than 15 movies to college). 

Now looking back I have no idea how these messages got past me. I mean, sure, I was a little kid, but it’s not like this stuff is exactly subtle or anything.  To think we grew up with all of these ideas coming at us under the guise of a catchy song!  I can say that this class has definitely changed how I think, for better or for worse.  Hopefully, though, I can keep watching these movies and ignore the stereotypes shown below because, in the end, I am a Disney die hard.

Helene Prickel

12/30/2011 01:54:33 pm

nice post

1/25/2012 12:14:21 pm

is before long

1/26/2012 07:00:40 am

Great info, thanks

3/23/2012 04:10:28 am

THX for info

4/19/2012 10:24:42 pm

THX for info

5/13/2012 11:05:44 pm

is quickly


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